My good friend and parenting expert from UK, Sue Atkins rightly compared the Brexit experience to that of divorce, the trauma will be similar for the young. This prompted me to write this blog as impact of divorce is quite traumatic on the entire family. And so just like Brexit the elders need to think before making any exit decision.
If you Google search, ‘impact of divorce on children’ you will come across an interesting report- The long-term impact of divorce on children, a 25 year study by Judith and Julia. And there is also an insightful article by Lauren Hansen, ‘9 negative effects divorce reportedly has on children’. One of the shocking negative effects mentioned in this article is ‘an early death’, this is proved in an eight-decade study and book called the Longevity Project by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin and it states, ‘that children of divorced families died on an average almost five years earlier than children whose parents did not divorce.’
Divorce is for many couples inevitable, for some unavoidable and for many the only option available. It is not important why the divorce happens but it is definitely important to understand how the divorce is handled and after the divorce how the couple looks after the well being of their children at any cost.
In Brexit it is believed that the elderly took this mammoth decision that the young will have to bear the consequences of. Well, it is similar in a divorce too, the young children are never part of the decision, and they just bear the brunt of it. Loss, change, and conflict are the worse traumatic experiences for children and adolescents, and divorce has all three. Moving to a different house, a different school, and a new name, not being able to see both parents together. And for some children, they end up blaming themselves for the divorce. Boys become more aggressive and tend to rebel and girls withdraw and show signs of anxiety. Research also shows that girls tend to become sexually active at a younger age.
Well, for couples that are going through a bitter divorce here are five things to keep in mind-
1. Why should divorce be bitter? You are parting ways, do it peacefully. Bitter was your experience of staying together, right? Now part ways amicably.
2. ‘Children first’ should be the motto of every divorce. No dirty fights or arguments in front of the children. And if children are at an age that they can understand then it is important that things are discussed with them and they should be made to feel secure. Remember, parting of any kind is traumatic for children and this is a difficult parting where a child is witnessing the parting of the two most important people in his/her life.
3. Don’t use the children as a pawn to get back at each other. It hurts! And the pain, bitterness, and trauma is not something children get over easily.
4. Important to also remember that you are divorcing your partner, divorce happens between husband and wife and not between parents and children. Be understanding in deciding visitation rights. Be fair to your children.
5. Insecurity leads to loss of self-esteem and that leads to depression, so ensure that your child does not feel insecure about the future.
If you have not yet decided about divorce and you are thinking of ending your relationship then first think of these 3 points-
1. Is divorce really the solution? Or will you then regret it? Think of the long-term consequences before you take the step.
2. Have you tried couples counseling? It helps.
3. If you don’t have kids and are in a rocky marriage then refrain from having them just yet. Many people think that having kids will save the marriage, it only complicates things for the child.
Brexit will take a lot of time and effort for everyone concerned to come to grips with the reality that things have changed and drastically. Identity has changed, laws will change and if not careful then people will change, their attitudes will change and their tolerance will change to. Keep this in mind for divorce too, handle it carefully.